Saturday, December 04, 2021

A corridor, lost

An analysis of the fatal accidents indicated that trucks led to 47 per cent of total fatal deaths in the city and over 40 per cent of the victims were cyclists.

Written by RITU SHARMA | Ahmedabad |
January 18, 2016 11:40:16 am
Ahmedabad traffic, ahmedabad vehicles, ahmedabad cyclists, cycles in ahmedabad, traffic in ahmedabad streets, ahmedabad streets, cycle owners, ahmedabad news Most bicycle lanes in Ahmedabad have been either encroached upon by roadside vendors or used as parking lots.(Photo: Javed Raja)

The original plan for the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) in Ahmedabad included cycle tracks along the corridor, but the internationally accepted design is yet to be successfully implemented.

Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited (AJL), the special purpose vehicle created to implement BRTS, had planned bicycle tracks to promote green mobility. But, now it appears to be a far cry. Of the total 89 km stretch of BRTS corridor implemented in two phases, the first phase covering 45 km has a dedicated cycle track, but in the second phase (44 km) only a seven km stretch has a cycle track.

Besides, even the existing tracks have been either encroached by hawkers or used as parking, leaving cyclists no other option but to take already choked arterial roads.

Gauging severity of the situation, AMC commissioner D Thara recently announced a project to relocate roadside vendors to demarcated areas and provide pay and park facility. She also proposed footpaths near 25-30 schools in the city.

As per a survey by the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University in 2009, nearly 49.5 per cent “vehicles” on Ahmedabad streets are cycles, mostly used by those belonging to economically weaker sections and low income groups. A study submitted by the AMC to the Union Ministry of Urban Development as the detailed project report for the phase II of BRTS also stated that despite progress in the economy, a large number of households (31 per cent) still do not own motorised vehicles. Of these, 8 per cent do not own any vehicle, while 23 per cent have only bicycles. This clearly stress the need for building facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.

About 60 per cent of population own two wheelers and 10 per cent own cars.

Identifying the accident prone areas in the city, the study revealed that the Vasna-Sarkhej stretch and Narol-Naroda Highway accounted for almost 50 per cent of the fatal road mishaps. These roads have high “regional traffic”, which consists of trucks and light commercial vehicles.

An analysis of the fatal accidents indicated that trucks led to 47 per cent of total fatal deaths in the city and over 40 per cent of the victims were cyclists.

Pedestrian traffic accounted for 19 per cent of the fatal deaths. It was also pointed out pedestrian traffic is significant along Narol-Naroda Highway, and the lack of proper pedestrian facilities such as footpaths and zebra crossings makes the matter worse.

On almost non-existence cycle tracks in BRTS phase II, authorities said it was due to lack of space. “Wherever possible and in the detailed project report design, cycling tracks were demarcated along with the BRTS corridor. These could not be provided everywhere,” said Hitesh Contractor, AMC city engineer supervising the BRTS project.

Admitting to encroachments on cycle tracks, deputy municipal commissioner and executive director BRTS K L Bachani said, “The cycle tracks have been encroached upon and the estate department is regularly removing these encroachments.”

The AMC officials were also clueless about pending bicycle projects in city. These included a bicycle masterplan for the city — development of 50 km of “bicycle network” with an estimated cost of Rs 5 crore.

“There is no paucity of infrastructure, but its availability. Removing encroachments is not a long term solution as the next day, the cycle tracks are again encroached upon. The solution has to be vendor driven. I have asked to identify the areas where vendors can be relocated. Trials are on at Soni ni Chali and under Isanpur bridge,” D Thara said. Another proposal as part of the BRTS phase II incorporated provision of segregated bicycle facilities on all arterial roads (36 metre and wider). This include access improvement plans at bus stations and markets.

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